Iraq encourages displaced people to return home

Iraq's government has given people occupying houses that were abandoned by refugees fleeing the violence one month to evacuate or face legal action, an official said Wednesday. After a sharp decline in violence, the government last month adopted a number of measures to encourage the return of internally displaced people and refugees who had moved to other countries. Iraqi military spokesman Maj. Gen. Qassim al-Moussawi said the decision took effect on Aug. 1 and those who refused to comply would be prosecuted. Tens of thousands of internally displaced people and refugees have returned to Baghdad and surrounding areas over the past year. But returnees have found their homes destroyed, looted or occupied by other displaced families.